Municipality of Crowsnest Pass
Population: 5589 (2016)
Coal. For almost a century it shaped the economic and social life of five municipalities in the Crowsnest (Bellevue, Hillcrest, Blairmore, Frank, Coleman). A mine disaster buried half the Town and is today recognized with at the Frank Slide Provincial Historic Site and Interpretive Centre. The local coal industry faded through the 1970s and 80s, but remains the most important source of family income in Crowsnest (locals work in mines 30 minutes west in British Columbia.).
The local employment base consists of healthcare (the Crowsnest Health Centre is a full-service hospital), education, heavy construction, residential building and renovation, retail, light manufacturing, building materials, and municipal services. A gas processing plant, light manufacturing and oil patch services provide economic balance often absent in resort communities.
A vibrant tourism industry has emerged, benefitting from an authentic mix of heritage and cultural attractions, community recreation amenity, and an unspoiled backcountry that yields imaginative adventure opportunity. Two hours from Calgary and one hour from Lethbridge, Crowsnest is the closest mountain recreation destination that does not have development and recreational constraints National Parks do. The result is a varied backcountry recreational experience – from snowmobiling to fishing to wildlife watching in the land of elk, cougars, wolves, grizzly bears, golden eagles and trout. Recreational tourism continues to experience growth – evidenced by expanding tourism services as diverse as motorsport dealers, angling guides, and importers of specialized climbing gear. More than $1.6 million is being invested in trail improvements for snowmobiles and off-road vehicles, horseback riders, walkers, and cyclists.
Freedom to pursue mountain escapes is not without boundaries, as local residents are quick to say tourism must be in balance with environment…that we have to tread lightly for the sake of future generations.
That Crowsnest is accessible to southern Alberta’s urban population has nurtured four emergent “industries”: early phase retirees (age 50-65); recreational property purchase attracted by affordable housing; local cottage industry (local manufacturing) catering to tourism; and footloose entrepreneurs attracted by mountain culture and recreation. The common bond between people passionate about the Crowsnest is that they are adventurers - active, dynamic, creative, sports-minded people who seek discovery and life adventure opportunities.
The Crowsnest is….Mountain Freedom.
- Around 1730, smallpox contracted from native traders killed an encampment of Indians at Crowsnest Lake. First Nations people shunned the Crowsnest Pass therafter, until it was settled by railway men and coal miners in 1898.
- Thousands of golden and bald eagles from across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains converge on Crowsnest Pass in early spring for their migration up the Continental Divide to breeding grounds in Yukon and Alaska.